President Obama to Host White House Science Fair

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
February 06, 2012

President Obama to Host White House Science Fair

Event Will Highlight Winners of National Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Competitions

WASHINGTON, DC -- On Tuesday, February 7th, President Obama will host the second White House Science Fair celebrating the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. The President will also announce key steps that the Administration and its partners are taking to help more students excel in math and science, and earn degrees in these subjects.

At the fair, the President will view exhibits of student work, ranging from breakthrough research to new inventions, followed by remarks to an audience of students, science educators and business leaders on the importance of STEM education to the country’s economic future.

The President hosted the first-ever White House Science Fair in late 2010, fulfilling a commitment he made at the launch of his Educate to Innovate campaign to inspire students to excel in math and science.  As the President noted then, “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you're a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.” In addition, over the past year, the President met with the three young women who won the Google Science Fair, met a student robotics team on his bus tour through North Carolina and Virginia, and made a surprise appearance at the New York City Science Fair.

Senior Administration Officials Attending
John Holdren
, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)
Subra Suresh, Director, National Science Foundation (NSF)
Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Charles F. Bolden, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Jane Lubchenco, Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Patrick Gallagher, Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Carl Wieman, Associate Director for Science, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)
Stephen Van Roekel, Federal Chief Information Officer
Harold Varmus, Director, National Cancer Institute    

Additional Information on the Exhibits, Students and Competitions at the White House Science Fair
The second White House Science Fair will celebrate over 100 students from over 45 states, representing over 40 different competitions and organizations that work with students and inspire them to excel in STEM. More than 30 student teams will have the opportunity to exhibit their projects this year, almost twice as many as the first White House Science Fair.

A sampling of the exhibits at the White House Science Fair include:

  • Student “Making” and Starting Small Business to Sell his Invention.   Fourteen year old Joey Hudy from Phoenix, Arizona is already a Maker Faire veteran.  He invented an Extreme Marshmallow Cannon and an LED Cube Microcontroller Shield, which he has exhibited at Maker Faires in New York, San Francisco, and Detroit.  He received 2 Editors Choice Awards from Maker Faire, and has started a small business selling the microcontroller (Arduino) shield kits on several websites.  As the World's Largest Do-It-Yourself Festival, Maker Faire is the premier event for grassroots American innovation.
  • Designing a More Efficient Way to Collect Solar Energy.  Aidan Dwyer, a middle school student hailing from Northport, New York, won first place in the American Museum of Natural History’s 2011 Young Naturalist Award for his study of a more efficient way to collect solar energy.  Modeling the natural design of tree limbs which Aidan predicted must serve a benefit for the trees to optimize sun collected to feed photosynthesis in the short, dark days of winter, Aidan worked to devise a potentially more efficient way to collect solar energy.
  • Seventeen-Year Old Girl Designing Targeted Cancer Treatment.  Angela Zhang, a seventeen year old senior from Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, California, won the $100,000 Grand Prize in the Individual category of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology for using nanotechnology to eradicate cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are responsible for initiating and driving tumor growth yet are often resistant to current cancer therapies.  In her research, Angela aimed to design a nanosystem to target drug delivery to these cancer stem cells, which could potentially help overcome cancer resistance, minimize undesirable side effects, and allow for real-time monitoring of treatment efficacy.
  • Teenage CEO Inventing Dissolvable Sugar Packets to Reduce Waste.  Hayley Hoverter, a 16 years old student from Downtown Business Magnet High School in Los Angeles, California, won first place at the 2011 Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship's National Challenge for her idea for patent-pending ecologically conscious dissolvable sugar packets.  Hayley, now CEO of Sweet (dis)SOLVE, started her business as a part of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s (NFTE's) business plan competition. 
  • Improving the Environment One Community at a Time. Isabel Steinhoff, Rico Bowman, Genevieve Boyle, and Mina Apostadiro, of Kohala Middle School in Kapaau, Hawaii, took first place in the grade 6-8 division of the Siemens “We Can Change the World” Challenge, for their household battery recycling effort to collect 6,000 batteries in 60 days.  The team, named 6000 in 60, embarked on a campaign to improve their community’s use and disposal of batteries by giving local people information on the environmental harm of batteries disposed improperly along with providing local opportunities for recycling.
  • Fifteen-Year Old Student Modeling Brain Control of a Robotic Arm.  Anand Srinivasan, a fifteen-year old sophomore from Roswell High School in Roswell, Georgia, qualified as a top 15 Finalist in the 2011 Google Science Fair.  Anand used data recorded via electroencephalography (EEG) from his brain and, after coupling it with the custom software that he wrote, used it to control a home-built robotic arm.  Anand believes that this technology could be put to use for amputees and patients suffering from paralysis and muscular dystrophy.
  • Team of Girl Scouts Seeking Patent on Prosthetic Hand Device Which Enables a Young Girl to Write.  A group of middle school-aged Girl Scouts from Ames, Iowa, including Gaby Dempsey, Mackenzie Gewell, and Kate Murray developed a patent-pending prosthetic hand device, winning them the inaugural Global Innovation Award at the FIRST LEGO League competition, beating out nearly 200 other submissions.  Their invention was in response to the need of a little old girl in Duluth, Georgia, enabling her to write for the first time although she was born without fingers on her right hand.  Their patent pending BOB-1 has earned the girls the Heartland Red Cross Young Heroes Award, scholarships at Iowa State University College of Engineering, recognition on the Floor of the Iowa and the US House of Representatives, and the title of finalists for the 2011 Pioneer Hi-Bred Iowa Women of Innovation Awards. 
  • Using Genes to Improve Farming.  Dyersburg High School senior, Maryanna McClure, made Tennessee Future Farmers of America history by becoming the first student from the Tennessee FFA Association to win the National FFA Agriscience Fair, placing first in Division II of the Zoology event, for her study of Cotswold sheep genetics.  Maryanna breeds, raises, and markets sheep and their fleece and was inspired to do a project to research how to breed the natural color of sheep back into the industry.  The National FFA Agriscience Fair is a competition for FFA members grade 7-12 who conduct a scientific research project pertaining to the agriculture and food science industries.
  • Young Women Rocketing to Nationals.  Janet Nieto and Ana Karen of Presidio, Texas were members of the Presidio High School Rocketry Team that competed as a National Finalist in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) in 2009, 2010, and 2011.  Gwynelle Condino, a 7th grade student at Lucy Franco Middle School, also of Presidio, Texas, is the leader of her TARC team this year.  All three girls have successfully competed in a number of rocketry challenges and have attended the NASA Student Launch Initiative Advanced Rocketry program. 
  • High School Student Developing System to Detect Nuclear Threats.  The Davidson Academy of Nevada student Taylor Wilson, 17, of Reno, Nevada conducted research on novel techniques for detecting nuclear threats and developed an environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and highly sensitive system capable of detecting small quantities of nuclear material. Taylor’s system, which won him the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award and Best of Category in Physics, could be used as a monitor at ports to scan cargo containers for Uraniam-235, Weapons Grade Plutonium, and Highly Enriched Uranium.
  • Young Students Developing a Sanitizing Lunchbox.  Sixth graders Ma’Kese Wesley and Isis Thompson and their LEGO robotics team from the ACE Collegium Campus in Kansas City, Missouri researched ways in which they could improve food safety.  Their invention, a UV-light lunchbox, sanitizes food between when it is packed in the morning and a student opens to eat it at lunchtime.  A UV light, which is turned on by a darkness-detecting sensor when the lunchbox is closed, kills bacteria that could make the food unsafe to eat.  The FIRST LEGO League competition aims to engage kids ages nine to fourteen in engineering. 
  • Succeeding at Science Even in Difficult Circumstances: Samantha Garvey, 18, of Bay Shore, New York, attends Brentwood High School -Sonderling Center in Brentwood, New York.  From a field of over 1,800 applicants, Samantha has been named a semifinalist for her Intel Science Talent Search 2012 environmental sciences project examining the effect of physical environment and predators on a specific species of mussel.  Despite personal obstacles, Samantha believes her education will bring her and her family a better life. 
  • Student Designing a Robot to Connect Senior Citizens with their Families.  Concerned with the loneliness of seniors at his grandmother’s senior living center, fourteen-year old Salesianum High School (Wilmington, DE) student Benjamin Hylak of West Grove, Pennsylvania, built an interactive robot, which qualified him as a BROADCOM Masters 2011 Finalist.  His telepresence robot which moves around the center and allows seniors to connect via Skype with their family and friends when they are unable to visit in person, earned him second place in the BROADCOM Masters Engineering Category. 
  • Building an Award-Winning Robot and Learning Entrepreneurial Lessons.   Morgan Ard, Titus Walker, and Robert Knight, III, 8th grade students at Monroeville Jr. High School in Monroeville, Alabama won high honors at the South BEST robotics competition.  BEST teams mimic industry by designing and developing a product and delivering it to market, including a marketing presentation, engineering notebook, trade-show style exhibit booth and robot competition.   Through the experience, these middle school students not only learned the innovation and engineering  necessary to develop an award-winning robot, but the marketing and business  skills that spark true entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Writing a Video Game that Focuses on Saving the Environment.  Eleven year old Hannah Wyman who attends St. Anna's School in Leominster, Massachusetts, won the grand prize in her age group (9-12) for her video game Toxic, in Microsoft's first-ever U.S.  Kodu Cup. In Hannah’s game, which is now available for free on the Kodu Game Lab site, a player must solve puzzles and collect coins in order to remove soot from trees, zap pollution clouds to clean the air, and convince friends to plant more trees, all in an effort to save the environment.
  • Developing a Portable Disaster Relief Shelter. Jessica D’Esposito, Colton Newton and Anna Woolery from Petersburg, Indiana are representing the Pike Central High School InvenTeam, one of fifteen schools selected nationwide.  They won a grant from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop a lightweight, portable disaster relief shelter, designed to be complete with a water purification system and a renewable energy source to power an LED light, which could be used after disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or tornadoes to house people who have been displaced.
  • Detroit Students Imagining the Energy Efficient City of the Future.  The Paul Robeson/Malcolm X Academy student team from Detroit, Michigan, competed in the Michigan Regional Contest of the National Engineers Week Future City Competition for the second year in a row.  Lucas Cain Beal, Jayla Mae Dogan, and Ashley Cassie Thomas, all aged 13, were part of a team that won the Excellence in Engineering Award at the 2012 Michigan Regional Competition focused on designing a city around the theme of "Fuel Your Future: Imagine New Ways to Meet Our Energy Needs and Maintain a Healthy Planet."   After being named Best Rookie Team in 2011, the students had to overcome losing their school to a fire.  Despite the adversity and having to merge with another school, the students were energized to take on the Future City challenge again, saying “(Future City) helps me make a better city to live in.” 
  • Re-Designing a Helmet to Better Protect U.S. Troops.  Eleven-year old Jack Dudley of Stone Hill Middle School and Sydney Dayyani of Belmont Ridge Middle School are members of a Virginia team that designed a military helmet to protect soldiers from traumatic brain injuries on the battlefield due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  Both young students have previously competed in national science competitions and this past year won first place in the 2011 Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision competition with their HEADS UP! Helmet. The helmet is a redesign of the standard-issue military helmet and is equipped with bullet and shrapnel-stopping gels and highly sensitive temperature and air pressure sensors to notify medical personnel of the presence and level of brain injury.
  • Designing a Mine Detecting Device.  Marian Bechtel, a 17-year old Hempfield High School student from Lancaster, Pennsylvania was inspired to take on the serious issue of abandoned landmines which are still found in many places around the world and investigated an innovative method for safe demining. Marian’s design could lead to a simple, cheap, and reliable humanitarian demining tool and earned Marian honors as a Finalist at the 2011 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.  Marian also won a second place award from the American Intellectual Property Law Association, a merit award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, a $1,000 award from the U.S. Army, and has recently been named an Intel Science Talent Search 2012 finalist.
  • Developing A Concussion-Detecting Helmet to Combat Sports Injuries.  Fifteen year old Peninsula High School (Rolling Hill Estates, CA) freshman Braeden Benedict from Rancho Palos Verdes, California developed a low-cost impact detection device for use on youth and high school contact sport helmets.  Braeden’s invention, winning him the top prize of America’s 2011 Top Young Scientist  at the 2011 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, will allow coaches and trainers to be alerted that a player has received a hit with enough force to cause a concussion.
  • Student Programmer Creating Dynamic Educational Video Game.  Jasper Hugunin, a thirteen year old eighth grade student from Island Middle School on Mercer Island, Washington, developed a video game which introduces players to programming concepts as they provide instructions to guide a robot through increasingly challenging mazes.   This clever design of “Robot Commander” won Jasper the Playable Game, Open Platform and Playable Game, and Incorporating STEM Themes categories at the National STEM Video Game Challenge.
  • Exploring Improvements to Cancer Treatments by Overcoming Chemotherapy Resistance.  Shree Bose, a 17-year old senior at Fort Worth Country Day School in Fort Worth, Texas, took top honors at the 2011 Google Science Fair for her discovery of a way to improve ovarian cancer treatment for patients when they have built up a resistance to certain chemotherapy drugs. Her conclusions hold tremendous potential for the improvement of cancer chemotherapy treatment and for future research. Shree has presented her research at numerous international competitions and has been honored as one of Glamour Magazine's 21 Amazing Young Women of 2011, spoken at TEDxWomen 2011, and served as a panelist at Google Zeitgeist.